Tay­lor 714ce v-class £3,359

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tay­lor launched its V-Class brac­ing in a typ­i­cally well-man­aged me­dia cam­paign to co­in­cide with NAMM 2018 back in Jan­uary – fit­ting for one of the big­gest sto­ries in the acous­tic gui­tar world for quite some time. We cov­ered the launch story back in is­sue 430, but fast for­ward to the late sum­mer this year and there’s been con­sid­er­able progress with the V-Class braced mod­els now fea­tur­ing from Tay­lor’s US-made 300 se­ries up­wards. If there was any doubt that V-Class ush­ered in a new chap­ter for Tay­lor, that’s been com­pletely scotched. Ever the in­no­va­tor, Tay­lor sim­ply re­fuses to look back­wards to move for­wards.

To re­cap, V-Class brac­ing is a re­place­ment for the time-hon­oured X-brace. Two main braces, laid out in a V shape, start ei­ther side of the sound­hole and run down to the end block. A main cross brace sits be­low the sound­hole – eas­ily vis­i­ble through the sound­hole – while four ad­di­tional braces fan out ei­ther side of those main V’d braces, be­low the bridge. That’s it. Aside from check­ing the sound­hole, the main iden­ti­fier for V-Class is sim­ply the black graphite nut, vis­i­bly an­gled back braces and here – com­pared to our stan­dard-braced 714ce – an ad­di­tional ‘Re­flec­tions’ head­stock in­lay. There is also a new in­ner la­bel, which for the first time, fea­tures the sig­na­ture of

Andy Pow­ers, Tay­lor’s Mas­ter Luthier and the cre­ator of V-Class.

The spruce/rose­wood 700 Se­ries, like the ma­jor­ity of Tay­lor’s gui­tars, al­ready re­ceived an Andy Pow­ers makeover back in 2016. It in­tro­duced an op­tional Western Sun­burst top, a ‘weath­ered brown’ pick­guard, multi-ring rosette (fea­tur­ing Dou­glas fir, like a ‘nat­u­ral halfher­ring­bone’), which is echoed as pur­fling in­side the Hawaii koa bind­ing.

A new fea­ture that was in­tro­duced then (and re­mains here) is the Lutz spruce top, which ac­cord­ing to Tay­lor has a “nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring hy­brid of Sitka and White spruce, which blends the pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics of these woods (and its close cousin, En­gel­mann spruce) with the ro­bust tonal out­put of Adiron­dack spruce. It will re­spond well to a strong at­tack.”

“In many re­spects, it’s be­come my favourite spruce,” says Andy Pow­ers. “It has

We’ve con­sis­tently failed to find a hair out of place with a Tay­lor…

power and head­room, but with­out sound­ing brash. It’s doesn’t sound brit­tle and it’s not too ag­gres­sive. It has a ton of warmth.”

He con­tin­ues: “A lot of times Sitka will sound like a [Fender] Twin Re­verb — a su­perb high-wattage amp, with su­per-clear head­room, and very pow­er­ful, but it can be a lit­tle stark. The Lutz spruce has head­room and that power, but the whole sound is broad and warm. It sounds more like a [Fender] Vi­broverb or some­thing, where there’s plenty of horse­power, with a rich flavour. It tends to give you a lit­tle more colour, which I like for the 700 Se­ries be­cause it fits the gui­tar’s iden­tity. It fits the strum­mer a lit­tle bet­ter in many cases.”

Feel & Sounds

We could waste words here on the build de­tails but we’ve con­sis­tently failed to find a hair out of place with a Tay­lor, not least at this price level. This V-Class 714ce, and its stan­dard-braced sib­ling we had for com­par­i­son, are both beau­ti­fully fault­less.

The 714ce is the epit­ome of Tay­lor and is known for its clear, ar­tic­u­late voice with gen­er­ous but rarely boomy lows, crisp con­tem­po­rary highs and a slightly re­laxed midrange. Bun­dle in the vir­tual elec­tric-like playa­bil­ity (string gauge aside, of course) and huge con­sis­tency and here’s one gui­tar that you can buy with a click of mouse.

Lis­ten­ing first to the stan­dard-braced 714ce, bal­ance is ev­ery­thing and the pre­vi­ous up­grade def­i­nitely added a lit­tle

more oomph in terms of dy­namic range and re­sponse, which cre­ates a gui­tar that belts it out when strummed hard, but doesn’t lose its life when fin­ger­picked. But we know that al­ready, right? What does V-Class bring?

Well, if we were A/B’ing this pair in a store, we’d walk out with the V-Class model even if we had no idea of the con­struc­tional dif­fer­ences. Why? As good as the stan­dard model is, the V-Class ver­sion seems louder with a wider dy­namic range. You re­ally can hit this hard and get a re­sult – the stan­dard ver­sion didn’t seem lack­ing un­til we played the V-Class. More gen­er­ally there ap­pears to be more clar­ity and depth com­pared to the stan­dard braced model.

Swap­ping be­tween the two, the V-Class sim­ply sounds cleaner in the lower mids (but not de­fi­cient), but it’s in the higher reg­is­ters that we hear a freer, less con­stricted ring. As we said in our pre­vi­ous V-Class test, in­to­na­tion has al­ways been su­perb on ev­ery con­tem­po­rary Tay­lor we’ve played but again – and, yes, it’s sub­tle – V-Class sounds slightly sweeter, more in-tune. Us­ing a Peter­son Strobe

as good as the stan­dard model is, the v-class ver­sion seems louder with a wider dy­namic range

tuner with both gui­tars as in-tune as we could get them, de­pend­ing on what we played, the stan­dard-brace model had us dou­ble-check­ing the tuner. The V-Class just sounds smoother, even when play­ing quite dif­fi­cult in­ter­vals. As you play across the ’board not least with, for ex­am­ple, a low E root then higher fret par­tial chords, the V-Class sounds lovely, while the same thing on the stan­dard gui­tar now seems slightly an­gu­lar.

Again, the ES2 sys­tem is not only hugely sim­plis­tic, but seems quicker to dial in a us­able sound com­pared to the stan­dard­braced model seem­ing to re­flect what we’re hear­ing un­plugged.

The v-class just sounds smoother, even when play­ing quite dif­fi­cult in­ter­vals

ver­dict

Progress and im­prove­ment can of­ten seem like dirty words in an in­dus­try that can ap­pear to be con­stricted by its past. If a new build doesn’t fol­low the prin­ci­ples of ‘vin­tage is best’ then it can’t be any good… Andy Pow­ers hasn’t ex­actly thrown that rule-book out of his work­shop win­dow, but he has ac­tu­ally in­stalled a few more vin­tage-y at­tributes right across the Tay­lor line in both sound and ap­pear­ance. So the V-Class doesn’t cre­ate a new hori­zon sound, as such, but it does en­hance and im­prove what was al­ready a cor­ner­stone Tay­lor model. And that’s whether you’re a cow­boy­chord strum­mer or a new-age fin­ger­style per­cus­sive mae­stro.

As we got used to the gui­tars (even over a rel­a­tively short play-test time), what ini­tially sounded like quite a sub­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween the V-Class and the stan­dard-braced model, be­came much more pro­found. It mir­rors our thoughts from our ini­tial V-Class test – it’s sim­ply a bet­ter tool.

Tay­lor’s ES2 elec­tro sys­tem places the piezo trans­ducer be­hind the sad­dle rather than un­der­neath it. The three small bolts al­lows slight re­sponse ad­just­ment 1

One of the iden­ti­fiers of the new V-Class braced gui­tars is a black graphite nut. Also, our 714ce V-Class gets an ad­di­tional ‘Re­flec­tions’ in­lay

2 The multi-ring rosette is typ­i­cally sub­tle. It uses her­ring­bone-style Dou­glas fir and maple. The ‘weath­ered brown’ pick­guard adds an­other classy and tex­tu­ral touch

3 It’s easy to see where the V-Class name came from, right? Here’s a braced top il­lus­trat­ing the de­sign

Andy Pow­ers is a fan of the Lutz spruce top used on the 700 Se­ries. The fin­ger­board fea­tures ‘Re­flec­tions’ in­lays and a near elec­tric-like set-up and playa­bil­ity

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